24
Jul
11

Russian blogger gets political asylum in Estonia

Russian musician and blogger Savva Terentyev, convicted in 2008 of inciting hatred against police, was granted political asylum by Estonian immigration authorities on July 11.

The decision by the Police and Border Guard will allow Terentyev, his wife and his son, who have been living in Estonia since January, to remain in the country for three years.

In July 2008, a court in Terentyev’s native Syktyvkar in Russia’s Komi district found him guilty of “inciting enmity and publicly humiliating representatives of a social group,” and sentenced him to a one-year suspended jail sentence.

The year prior, then 21-year-old Terentyev posted a comment on an acquaintance’s Live Journal blog in response to a report on the blog of a police raid on a local opposition newspaper. Terentyev was highly critical of the police, calling for daily ceremonies in the center of every Russian city where one dishonest cop would be burned.

The case against him began six months later.

Terentyev’s conviction sent shockwaves through the Russian internet community as it was the country’s first criminal case based on a blog comment. The case has also been cited by international rights groups such as Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House and Human Rights Watch, whose reports Terentyev submitted along with his application for asylum, according to the BBC’s Russian service.

In an interview with the BBC, Terentyev said he has had difficulty finding work since his conviction due to the bad reputation he received, and has no plans to go back to Russia in the future. “All this ended with my receiving the right to live in Europe and now I can freely travel in the territory of the CIS as well as the EU,” he said.

Though he still believes he did not break the law in making his comments, Terentyev expressed regrets for making them. “I didn’t recognize, and I still do not recognize, that it was a violation of the law,” he said. “But now I wouldn’t write that, simply because I have a different mood than I had four years ago. I already admitted in court that it was pure stupidity. But for a personal correspondence between two young people it was perfectly normal.”

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